It’s generally accepted that Beagle boys are more of a handful than their female counterparts. Certainly Biggles has presented us with challenges we haven’t had to face with Beanie.
The first problem we had was with resource guarding, or more specifically sock guarding. Our little boy developed a major obsession with socks from an early age, and he’d growl and even snap at our hands if we tried to take them off him. A little bit of firm handling from the head trainer at Biggles’ obedience class convinced him that this wasn’t a good way to behave, and though he still appreciates an occasional sock (especially if it’s smelly), he’s now very willing to accept a trade.
We tend to think he’s not as smart as Beanie, but he has learned how to open the tumble dryer and help himself to socks!
The growling and snapping (usually with no or very light contact from his teeth) soon resurfaced in other situations however. Though initially an extremely cuddly boy, he now took a dislike to being picked up and handled which was not very helpful when a vet examination or a nail trimming was required. My gut reaction to this was to be firm with him and make it very clear that such behavior would not be tolerated, but the almost unanimous advice we read was to avoid confrontations, so that’s what we did. As we backed off however Biggles started misbehaving in more and more situations. He developed a kind of passive-aggressive response to anything he didn’t like. It was kind of Gandhi meets Hannibal Lecter; he’d roll over onto his side, raise his upper rear leg slightly and snap at any attempt to approach him. We saw this when we told him to leave the kitchen, to come in from the garden, to go into his crate, in fact pretty much any time we asked him to do something he didn’t want.
We consulted trainers about this and the consensus was that as an adolescent boy, the Bigglet was just getting a bit too big for his boots. He needed to be shown his place in the world, but not by shouting and bottom smacking. Instead, withdrawal of privileges and symbolic demonstrations of our superiority was the way to go.
About a month ago, we made the following changes:
- Biggles is no longer allowed into bed with us in the morning
- He is no longer allowed to sit on the sofa beside me
- When entering or leaving the house he has to sit and wait for us to go first
- If he tries the bitey-Gandhi routine, we just stand over him and stare him out until he gives up (usually less than 60 secs)
Interestingly these are all the kind of things you see on Caesar Milan’s “The Dog Whisperer” every week, even though the trainers in question don’t subscribe to his theories. According to Caesar’s pack hierarchy model we weren’t being sufficiently strong pack leaders and Biggles had figured he was the boy to fill that role.
By the age of 32, Alexander The Great ruled most of the known world. At the age of 1 year and a few weeks Biggles has lost his bedroom and sofa privileges, but he still has his favorite step.
The thing is, whether you believe Caesar’s theories or not a lot of his advice seems to work, and that’s the case here. Since we’ve been following these simple steps Biggles has once again become an easy going, cuddly little boy. He’s still naughty of course, but then he is a Beagle and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
OK, OK I’ll go into my basket, but I’m still going to give my bed a good seeing-to!